Turks rally against Kurdish rebels

2011-07-17 20:18

Istanbul - Thousands of people demonstrated in Istanbul and Ankara on Sunday to rail against Kurdish separatist rebels who killed 13 soldiers in an ambush last week, media reported.

In Istanbul, more than 5 000 marched on Istiklal Avenue, waving Turkish flags, many of them chanting "No to terrorism" or "Down with the PKK", referring to the outlawed separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party.

Some 4 000 flag-waving demonstrators also marched in central Ankara to protest last Thursday's clashes in the mainly Kurdish southeast.

The ambush, in which another seven soldiers were wounded, marked the army's heaviest losses since October 2008. Seven PKK rebels were also killed.

Last week, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at the Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party (BDP), which is close to the PKK, saying it should not expect Ankara to bow down to violence and make concessions in faltering efforts to end the 26-year conflict.

The mounting violence added to tensions between Ankara and the Kurds that have been on the rise since June 12 general elections.

Thirty Kurdish-backed lawmakers have boycotted the new parliament after the authorities refused to release six Kurdish activists elected while awaiting trial in prison, and stripped one of them of his parliamentary seat.

Ankara has had sporadic contact with jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan, who retains his influence over the Kurds, in a bid to reach a peaceful end to the conflict.

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